The Department of Justice announced today the filing of a lawsuit against the University of California, San Diego Medical Center, alleging that the medical center discriminated in the employment eligibility verification process against people who are authorized to work in the United States.

The department’s independent investigation revealed that the medical center engaged in a pattern or practice of subjecting newly hired non-U.S. citizens to excessive demands for documents issued by the Department of Homeland Security in order to verify and re-verify their employment eligibility, but did not require U.S. citizens to show any specific documentation.  It was observed that the center recorded List A documents submitted for all lawful permanent residents and aliens authorized to work, but gave the freedom to submit List A or List B&C documents to US citizens. The Immigration and Nationality Act’s (INA) anti-discrimination provision prohibits employers from placing additional documentary burdens on work-authorized employees during the hiring and employment eligibility verification process based on their citizenship status or national origin.

“All workers who are authorized to work in the United States have the right to work without encountering discrimination because of their immigration status or national origin,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “We are committed to vigorously protecting authorized workers from discrimination in the hiring process and ensuring that employers uphold their obligations under the law.”

It can be concluded by saying that to have stringent measures to complete I-9 Forms are good but employers should be careful in being overzealous while trying to be compliant. Organizations should be careful to follow the same practice for all their employees and not have a different process for those who may look or sound foreign. This could land them with costly litigation, fines and negative publicity.

In order to set up a compliant system that is consistent a company should first draw out a policy and give ample training to the people who would be administering it. Draw the policy based on legal counsel as this would ensure that most loopholes in law are covered.

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EMPTrust provides electronic I-9 and E-Verify solutions that simplifies your employment verification process. To know more about us visit our website www.emptrust.com

Disclaimer: The content of this post does not constitute direct legal advice and is designed for informational purposes only. Any issues regarding compliance and obligations under United States or International laws or regulations should be addressed through your legal department or outside counsel.